off-trail adj.

(of a story, esp. one that is not easily categorized) fantastic or science-fictional


SF Criticism

  • 1933 Titans of Science Fiction: Harry Bates in Science Fiction Digest Feb. 10/2 page image

    Considers Diffin’s ‘Power and the Glory’ an off-trail story and one of the best he published.

  • 1938 H. Kuttner Selling Fantasy Story in Writer's Digest Mar. 29/1

    One a few tricks are mastered, the fantasy is one of the easiest stories to write. And there are…magazines such as Argosy, Bluebook, Esquire, etc., which occasionally run an off-trail yarn of this type.

  • 1947 R. Palmer Observatory in Amazing Stories Oct. 7/2 page image Raymond A. Palmer bibliography

    Don Wilcox gives us ‘The Kettle In The Pit’ as one of his ‘off-trail’ offerings.

  • 1948 Thrilling Wonder Stories Feb. 100/1

    Tell Bob Heinlein that, for my money, he has come up with something pretty darned swell, a classic short story. Forget the drips who wander vaguely around and save this Universe and that, and give us more wonderful off-trail short stories.

  • 1957 S. Moskowitz 1957 in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Feb. 66/2 Sam Moskowitz

    At first such tales were referred to as OFF-TRAIL STORIES, but this was too all-inclusive and could also mean anything from a story told in the second person to a western yarn with a Christmas setting. To solve the problem, Argosy created the term DIFFERENT STORIES.

Research requirements

antedating 1933

Research History
Fred Galvin submitted a 1957 cite from Sam Moskowitz's "How Science Fiction Got Its Name".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1948 cite from a letter from Russell Harold Woodman in Thrilling Wonder Stories.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1947 cite from an editorial by Raymond A. Palmer in Amazing Stories.
Bill Mullins submitted a 1933 cite from Science Fiction Digest.

We would like cites of any date from other authors. Since there is a standard English definition of "off-trail" meaning "unusual," citations should contain enough context to indicate that the sense is SF/F/H.

Last modified 2024-03-18 11:31:26
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.